Victim of strangling attack outraged perpetrator will be back on streets before new year

"Garbage!" Court hears victim endured repeated assaults, near strangulation; she's critical of victim services offered in Revelstoke

“Garbage!”

That was the reaction from the victim to a sentence that will see her ex-boyfriend out of jail before the new year. A man who she testified battered her repeatedly over the course of their four-year relationship, culminating in a vicious attack where he pinned her down and throttled her nearly to death.

“He said, ‘That’s it, you’re going to die bitch. This is it,” she testified at the trial of her former partner in October. Tears rolled down her cheek. “I couldn’t cough, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t kick. I started thinking of my family and friends and never seeing them again.”

(Read about that October trial here.)

The Times Review has chosen not to identify the victim to prevent further harm to her. Following the Nov. 2 sentencing of Ryan Luscombe, 23, she said she now feared retribution for testifying, saying the authorities will find her “dead in a ditch.”

She trembled visibly and was comforted by her mother as she spoke in the hallway of the Revelstoke Courthouse.

“He’s going to come back; he will come back,” she said.

Revelstoke resident Ryan Luscombe was found guilty of two counts of assault, uttering threats of violence and forced confinement after his ex-girlfriend testified against him in early October.

At the Nov. 2 sentencing hearing, Luscombe’s face was expressionless. The fresh-faced, stalky young man sported a crew cut and wore orange jail garb. He sat almost motionless in the prisoners’ dock, gazing forward. He didn’t react visibly to the proceedings.

In her sentencing submission Crown counsel Mariane Armstrong argued Luscombe should get 18–24 months in jail, plus three years of probation. She cited a pre-sentencing report from a psychiatrist that noted a “total lack of remorse” on Luscombe’s part. Armstrong cited Luscombe’s considerable criminal record, including a conviction for sexual assault in 2006. “Violence by men against women is particularly reprehensible,” Armstrong said.

She also noted the victim’s ongoing distress: “When she thinks about his release, she cries,” Armstrong said. “Clearly, the reason for terror is real.”

Defence lawyer Melissa Klages cited case law while arguing for three to four months of jail. She noted Luscombe’s life had spiralled downward after his parents divorced. “He is only 23 and rehabilitation should be a factor.” She noted his steps to get into a trades program and find employment in Penticton once out of jail.

Legal arguments also focused on what Luscombe should get for time served. The Crown prosecutor said he was in jail after being arrested for a subsequent offence in Penticton, a charge prosecutors didn’t pursue. She argued this meant he should receive less credit. The defence argued the opposite.

Justice Mark Takahashi sided with the defence on the latter. He handed down a 180-day sentence, minus 127 days for time served. He said legal precedent was clear on the time-served question. This means Luscombe faces an additional 53 days. Takahashi also sentenced Luscombe to 24 months of probation, counselling, a firearms ban and ordered him to provide a DNA sample. He was also banned from Revelstoke during his probation, but will be allowed to visit his father and brother here if he informs his probation officer and gets permission ahead of time.

Takahashi cited Luscombe’s lack of remorse and questioned whether he could be rehabilitated, saying, “Society will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.”

Victim services criticized

The lack of a victims’ services coordinator in Revelstoke was mentioned in the courtroom. After the trial, the victim was critical of the services offered to victims of crime in Revelstoke. She said nobody informed her of the need to provide a victim impact statement, saying if she hadn’t figured it out on her own it wouldn’t have happened – likely leading to a lessened sentence for her attacker. “Why is it my responsibility to chase the courts around?” she asked.

The City of Revelstoke recently didn’t renew the contract for the existing victim services’ coordinator, instead issuing a new contract. The replacement is not expected to be in place for another couple of months.

The victim also missed the first day of the court proceedings because nobody informed her of them, adding that she wasn’t happy with the program even when it was staffed. “Nobody is coming to help me,” she said.

Her next step would be to install dead-bolts and an enhanced security system at her house. “It’s a matter of time,” she said.